Bohemian Rhapsody Seems To Be An Introduction To Risk Taking

The success and the impact of the movie Bohemian Rhapsody still continues to reverberate with me personally. It occurred to me that this current generation possibly were never exposed to the concept of risk taking in music. So I posed a question on social media ” Am I just being an old guy or is Bohemian Rhapsody the first place young people experience the combination of musicians and risk taking. If I am wrong please provide examples.”

The initial reaction of my friends mistook it for bandwagon jumping or the younger people being close minded to ” old people” music. None of them provided examples nor did they really address the concept of risk taking. Like I said in the first time I wrote about this movie, that the character Ray Foster was not a single person but an amalgamation of the “suits” in the music business. If you want to listen to songs about the suits there are two exquisite ones in the Pink Floyd album Wish You Were Here titled Welcome To The Machine and Have A Cigar. Both document the dance between rock and rollers and commerce.

This character is there to manage risk.

In that scene with the band, Littlefinger, Miami and Ray Foster one can not help but think about the old adage in the publishing business. A writer will write based on their ability and vision but the publisher has to worry about what they think the public will buy. The more I think about that scene the more I love it. The band had their vision of the single being 6 minute long with operatic elements and obscure references. Ray Foster was there to provide push back. Keep in mind that in 1975 the disco era was ramping up. The Hues Corporation Rock the Boat was a #1 hit the previous year. The band knew what it wanted. In fact in 1985 they had a song called One Vision.

Taking musical risks is one thing. For it to be a reality you will have to get the guys paying the bills to play along. The quote from that meeting “It’s my money, I say what goes!“. We know the rest is history but Queen had to put their foot down. And yes I believe Roy Thomas Baker had something to do with the fact that the song Bohemian Rhapsody ultimately sold despite its quirkiness.

I will use the office meeting scene from Bohemian Rhapsody as a springboard to talk about different aspects of risk. Many people choose to define risk differently in the financial field. For most people risk is the chance you will lose all your money in an iffy investment. Some people choose to define risk that your money will lose it’s purchasing power after taxes and inflation. Might be a good time to read up on the topic?

One of my favorite examples of risk taking is not from the musical world but the world of cinema. Most people would be satisfied if they were the brains behind Godfather and Godfather II. Yet Francis Ford Coppola took the profits from those movies and finance his vision of the fusion of a Joseph Conrad novel and his experiences in the Vietnam War. The beauty is we get to be stressed with him and his family in a documentary filmed here in the Philippines called Hearts of Darkness. This was one of my earliest contributions to GRP.

I feel that to kickoff my personal look on risk taking in recorded music I have to look into the dynamic that existed between The Beatles and the Beach Boys creative spark plug Brian Wilson. You have to respect the Beatles who despite being on top of the world in the mid sixties kept pushing the envelope which is a metaphor for taking risks. Helter Skelter was recorded because they felt insulted that the Who were considered a louder band. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was the Beatles becoming a fictional band. Of course they had to sound different from the Beatles. They were inspired by the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds and in a strange twist Pet Sounds was inspired by the Beatles Rubber Soul.

Iron Butterfly‘s “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” has been referenced in many TV shows like the Simpsons, Beavis and Butthead, Coach, Moonlighting and the movies Manhunter and Forrest Gump. Queen fought for the 6 minute Bohemian Rhapsody. Iron Butterfly fought for the 17 minute track which is more popular than the 3 minute version the record company released as a single. Manhunter’s director Michael Mann was better known as the guy behind Miami Vice when he gave “In-A-Gadda..” the big screen treatment in the climax of the movie. He used more than nine minutes of the song as build up in the battle  between good and evil.

You saw the resistance the suits gave the song Bohemian Rhapsody not only because of the opera music but even the different names ( Scaramouche,  Galileo, Beelzebub)    mentioned. I would love to be a fly on the wall when Pink Floyd tried to sell the record companies on these concepts: growing up without a father and blaming the war, feeling like a pawn, mortality, materialism, George Owell’s Animal Farm, the process of getting signed by the record company, personal isolation, internal conflict symbolized by a courtroom battle. Even if their music can be categorized as ear candy their lyrics were anything but fluff. More shock than awe.

Alan Parsons worked on Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon as the engineer and shortly after was given his own act to produce. So their debut album was based on the literary works of Edgar Allen Poe. The risk worked because many more albums followed with such concepts as technological determinism, the mystery of the pyramids , gambling addiction, the allure of women, the architect Antonio Gaudi and the evolution of artificial flight.

Joe Jackson ( not the father of Michael) was lumped in with Elvis Costello and others in the late 70s as “Angry Young Man songwriters”. He recorded the Jumpin Jive which were covers of songs from the 40s without selling out to the 80s conventions. 1984’s Body and Soul was recorded “live” with just two microphones for the whole band. No overdubs. 1986’s Big World was also recorded live in a concert hall with a silent audience. Lyrically it is about the culture clashes while travelling and other things international. In 1987 he released Will Power an instrumental album with arrangements associated with classical music. Out of the five tracks, only one had vocals. How many artists do you know with hits like Is She Really Going Out With Him and Stepping Out release albums with almost no vocals and you really hear flutes and clarinets?

I doubt many of you would equate the  concept of musical risk with the name Barry Manilow. 2:00 AM Paradise Cafe is an obscure recording even for Manilow fans. It transports you to a time and place with a handful of musicians playing acoustic instruments on a cramped stage late at night. Many of the contributors were better known in the 50s and 60s in the jazz/ blues world. They rehearsed for three days then recorded the music uninterrupted with some overdubs after. Think of all the big hits Manilow had at the time like Mandy, Copacabana, I Write the Songs, Could It Be Magic and Even Now then he tries this.

There are many acoustic albums but none with the story of how they came to be like Nebraska.

Usually risk taking in any arena can be equated to head scratching. Like a surprise onside kick in football. When Bruce Springsteen released 1982’s Nebraska it was definitely met with some head scratching. He was on the cover of both Newsweek and Time, the albums Born To Run, Darkness On The Edge of Town and The River were well received by critics and record buyers. The album was basically recorded in his bedroom while he sang and played guitar while sitting on a rocking chair.

” Me and the boys are playin and we just can’t find the sound”

Kiss

What we hear on Nebraska was only intended for Bruce’s E Street Band so they can record the songs in a style and manner we are more accustomed to. For whatever reason those recordings did not click. There was an attempt to duplicate the demos in the demos in the studios yet the magic they perceived in the original could not be replicated with all that equipment in the studio. So they ultimately decided to dress up the original primitive demos into a product worth putting on a record. It resulted in a haunting yet essential part of my music collection.

The lyrics offer such themes an officer of the law compromises his duty because of brotherly love, reincarnation, late night radio offerings keeping you company while driving, the minimal budget for family transportation, killers musing about their executions , father and son estrangement and other similar scenarios.

Like it or not risk/ reward is a natural occurrence in life. Socialism likes to believe they can legislate risk / reward out of life. They might as well legislate against gravity. No guts, no glory. The cream rises to the top, the bigger they are the harder they fall. Play to win instead of playing not to lose. Bohemian Rhapsody is about a musical act that had the cojones to write and record music that stood out even from their very own repertoire. They did not want to repeat itself. Our current musical landscape doesn’t seem to feature albums, song writing and musicianship. Instead of wowing the audience, musical acts seem content with conformity to each other. So nothing really lasts because nobody has the testicles to do what Queen did and constantly evolve,  innovate and challenge. To continue being fresh while song writing, recording and playing on stage. In order to make their mark in music history they vowed to imitate no one, even themselves. In the words of Jim ” Miami ” Beach from the film: “Fortune favors the bold.”

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18 Comments on “Bohemian Rhapsody Seems To Be An Introduction To Risk Taking”

  1. Risk is the foundation of capitalism and is present in a democratic system where human rights and individual liberty are protected by the state. This gives people the FREEDOM to take risks or alternatively choose not to take risks.

    You seem to be against socialism where the government “legislate risk / reward out of life” within the principles of social justice and equality …… yet are weirdly ok with DICTATORSHIP which the government legislates the actions of its people on the whims of a dear leader.

    Why don’t you tell me how great the business environment was during MARTIAL LAW?!?

    GRP has a paid hack site of the Marcos cannot even properly reconcile its ideas. Trying to have your cake and eat it too!

    1. 1) I have over a hundred submissions here in GRP . Please highlight where the Marcos crew are getting their value from paying me or STFU with the paid the Marcos hack talk.
      2) Queen made money .
      3) You seem to be quiet about having a president in charge who at age 50 had ZERO utility then his mom died and people like you championed his right to be president. He had more hair than accomplishments which is not saying much.
      4) Prove I am a Marcos hack or consider anything you say here spam. You don’t deserve my time you yellow cringing milk sop.

      1. @Gogs LOLZ

        According to benign0 I don’t need to prove any claims I make on a blog. No need for any hard evidence. Just GRP style CARABAO LOGIC, lolz.

        Too many pro-marcos posts in GRP. Including the last one. Guilty by association I suppose. If you want proof, look for it yourself. You don’t want to be spoonfed information do you?

        Prove I’m a yellow then. I dont even like pnoy. I just enjoy my freedom to drink my chai chai chi chi latte with the rest of the millennials without bowing down to dear leader.

        I also hate flat-earthers/ anti-vaxxers

        And I can be many things. But above all I am WISE

        1. Just because youre an anti-vaxxer and a vaccine supporter doesnt mean you are wise.
          Same as just because you are not pro government/ant-marcos doesnt make you a yellowtard.
          Same as just because grp compares marcos with aquino showing the latter in a bad light because it was objective doesnt make it a pro-marcos site.
          I’ll take everything you said with a grain of salt, so my conclusion, you must be a commie (no to dictatorships, except the one run by you), or just a plain old anarchist.
          btw, fuck you, you make me sick.

        2. @T:

          You took the words right off my mouth.

          He says that he’s not Yellow and he’s not a Noynoy fan but fails to realize that Ninoy is connected with Reds and Noynoy is mostly connected with leftist groups, mostly Akbayan. And thanks for bringing up the anarchist label because he wants absolute freedom with no remorse or responsibility so he’s free to violate any law he wishes. Also for commies, they hate dictators but they want to be one (dictatorship of the proletariat). And you know what they have in common? Overly emotional drivel.

      2. Ha ha! No that rule only applies to the authors and powers-that-be on this site. You, on the other hand, Mr Darth Mortis, are subject to rules we can arbitrarily come up with. So tough luck. I’ll remove you from this site in a minute when you start boring me. What’s the snowflake term for it? Ah yeah: Pramis.

        1. @Dilaw Mortis, the DEFEATED:

          @benign0
          LOLZ! This is the equivalent of a kid throwing a tantrum dumping the board game all over the floor. “WAAAH WAAH”.

          I was merely pointing out the logical gaps of GRPs “analysis”and using your own rules and carabao logic against you. GRP makes all sorts of baseless claims and refuses to provide data. I only… how do you say it? Beg to differ.

          I win. Too bad, Oratio and the rest of the jokers aren’t here.
          Nobody reads your posts gogz.

          SAD!

          Nope, you’re delusional. You should remember that any argument isn’t won by hurling labels and insults.

          Sorry, son. You lost, too bad your shitposting days are over.

        2. Let’s pity him. He has a quota and he has to resort to inserting his anti Duterte rhetoric into a Glitz and Glamour piece about a scene from a movie about a band who made music. Complete with unfounded accusations. Then of course butt hurt when told to cease and desist. Typical pinoy attitude of Dilaw Morris. When the topic is not about you , make it about you to get attention. Kris Aquino did that to Andrew Garfield. For every 1 person that cares about Little Bossings 30 people care about Spider Man.

        3. You got to hand it to him, this asshole knows how to veer the discussion of an article that is part movie review, music history and risk-taking encouragement to something that has the words “Marcos”, “Dictatorship” and “Martial Law” in it… all in one post.

        4. Thanks for saying that people like Dilaw Mortis is an actual troll. Because trolls love to seek attention, making him more of a narcissist.

          Indeed KSP is the root of all evil.

  2. Risk is part of living. The greater the risk, the greater the reward. Risk takers , if they succeed are the people, who go where no one dared to go before…

    The late Pres. Marcos, Sr. knew the risk, when he proclaimed Martial Law in the Philippines. Enrile and Fidel Ramos, knew also the risks.

    The Aquino Cojuangco political axis; the N.P.A./C.P.P.; the Roman Catholic Church liberation Theology minded clergy;the U.S./C.I.A.;the various leftist political ideologues; the political opportunists; etc…look for the opportunity, to misinform people and grab power.

    The rest is history…Now, it is coming to a full circle; that people are awakened from a deep slumber of mainstream media of fake news, and political propaganda machine. Misinformation , for the sake of advancing the Aquino Cojuangco political agendas, is even in our elementary textbooks and history books.

    The Aquino era was the darkest periods in Philippine history !

  3. Most men either compromise or drop their greatest talents and start running after, what they perceive to be, a more reasonable success, and somewhere in between they end up with a discontented settlement. Safety is indeed stability, but it is not progression.

  4. It really saddens me that there are idiots who would love to put their stupid politics in this article when it’s all about Queen and the movie “Bohemian Rhapsody”. That’s also a form of attention whoring right there. Now, moving on…

    I never watched the film myself, but my first exposure to Queen is when I watched “Highlander: The Series” when I was a kid. Yep, with the opening theme titled “Princes of the Universe” and even I loved playing wooden swords with my bros because of the show itself, I really have no idea that it was a Queen song! And I also heard “We Will Rock You” in a commercial back in the 90s then MTV came along and watched a music video of “We Are The Champions” and even Robbie Williams’ own rendition of it for the movie “A Knight’s Tale” and in my college days, I’ve watched a music video of “Bohemian Rhapsody”.

    My personal favorite Queen song is their rendition of “I Was Born to Love You” from their final album “Made in Heaven”. Years later and with the release of the Bohemian Rhapsody film, I have found another personal favorite: “The Show Must Go On”. Most of those who watched the film said it was featured in the end credits, but when I found the lyrics and the backstory behind it, it made me realize something – that Freddie Mercury is actually a risk taker. The song “Bohemian Rhapsody” is considered to be Queen’s masterpiece, but “The Show Must Go On” is an underrated masterpiece IMO. Freddie is dying of AIDS during that time and guitarist Brian May is worried if they can continue due to Freddie’s weakening state. Yet Freddie was like “Nope, I’ll freaking do it, darling!” after taking a vodka and they decided to do it. I’m very impressed. I mean, that man is dying in an incurable disease and he still wants to go on and make this great song. That song is all about defiance and hope.

    Beyonce cancelled her concert because she is “tired”. Justin Bieber cancelled his due to a cold. Iggy Azalea cancelled her concert because she is embarrassed. But Freddie Mercury? He’s slowly dying of AIDS and he still goes on a high note. That’s legendary.

  5. Interesting take on : 1) the success of the film despite the panning of the critics 2) the reinvention of Queen years after their last US hit and the death of Freddie Mercury. 3) Risk Taking. Taken from https://lefsetz.com/wordpress/

    So what have we learned?

    It was the worst-reviewed Golden Globe winner in 33 years: https://bit.ly/2CUTuoO Not that I needed Rotten Tomatoes to tell me this, I’ve been tracking it all along. Excoriated in the press, I’ve yet to find one person who didn’t absolutely adore it.

    This movie should have been a nonstarter. Aged rock band’s surviving members shepherd a biopic to the screen. The story is too old, not intriguing enough, and everybody will tell you you don’t want the subjects involved, they can never agree on anything and they want a whitewash.

    But “Bohemian Rhapsody” is the highest grossing biopic of all time, with a $743,677,266 gross, with $193,644,966 of that in the U.S.

    Furthermore, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the song, was not that big of a phenomenon when it was released back in ’75. “A Night At The Opera” was a breakthrough for a band who famously listed “No Synthesizers” in the credits. Their debut, back in ’73, came out on Elektra in the U.S., the home of another band that resurfaced decades later, the Doors. It was Columbia and Warner Brothers who could push this stuff, not Elektra.

    But the second album got more traction and the third established a true beachhead, primarily “Killer Queen.”

    But the amazing thing about “A Night At The Opera” was its breadth, its different styles. To tell you the truth, “I’m In Love With My Car” and “39” and “You’re My Best Friend” resonated with me more than “Bohemian Rhapsody.” “Bohemian Rhapsody” was not “Stairway To Heaven,” it was not “Free Bird,” it did not sit atop the annual Memorial 500, it was just another arty track in a healthy, diverse scene.

    One can argue quite strongly that the subsequent “We Will Rock You”/”We Are The Champions” had greater impact two years later, but neither “A Day At The Races” nor “News Of The World” were as consistent as “A Night At The Opera,” the band’s apotheosis. And after the relatively hitless “Jazz,” which did contain “Fat Bottomed Girls” and “Bicycle Race,” the band came back with “The Game” and the infectious “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and “Another One Bites The Dust” and then Queen was done, they switched labels in the U.S. and never had another hit, and in the rest of the world the situation was not a whole lot better.

    But now they’re LEGENDS? SUPERSTARS? How did this HAPPEN?

    That’s right, we had not only Zeppelin, but the Eagles, and before they died, Skynyrd. The truth was, there was a plethora of great acts in the seventies, an era where there was 24 track recording and enough money to get the sound down and the bands could play live and the PA’s could support them.

    Credit “Wayne’s World.” It’s just that simple, Wayne and Garth made “Bohemian Rhapsody,” a nearly-forgotten classic rock track, a national staple.

    Just like “The Sopranos” gave credibility to Journey and made Steve Perry a legend.

    The question is…WHO ELSE CAN BE BROUGHT BACK FROM THE DEAD?

    It seems we’re just a placement away from bringing old acts back. But it can’t be manipulated, it’s got to be serendipitous, which makes it so hard to accomplish.

    And everyone knows Freddie Mercury died of AIDS.

    BUT THEY WENT TO SEE THE MOVIE ANYWAY!

    And like I said, the critics savaged the film. Proving their worth in the internet world.

    And speaking of the internet world, it’s the endless repeats of “Wayne’s World” on cable and streaming that kept the legend of “Bohemian Rhapsody” alive.

    So what is resonating with the public? Which knows the story and the song?

    THE NARRATIVE!

    The classic rock narrative is irresistible. People with nothing do hard work and ultimately succeed doing it their way.

    This is radically different from today’s music paradigm.

    Then again, wasn’t this the story of N.W.A. and “Straight Outta Compton”?

    Act too dangerous, too out there for the business, plays by its own rules and resonates with the public.

    In other words, “Bohemian Rhapsody” is “Behind The Music” on steroids.

    But that formula became long in the tooth. And most acts are not as charismatic as Queen and Mercury.

    Now I’m not sure movie studios should rush to do biopics, they usually fail. But “Bohemian Rhapsody” tapped into something.

    The power of music.

    The power of rock and the roll.

    The power of outsiders.

    The power of doing it your way.

    We’re looking for dominance, for a beacon, something to believe in, and Freddie Mercury and Queen fit the bill.

    In a country that’s divided, that doesn’t resemble the seventies whatsoever, the public hungers for something better, a time where music was more important than politics, when a musician was richer than a banker, when the rock star life was truly lived by rock stars.

    I doubt “Bohemian Rhapsody” will win Best Picture at the Oscars.

    But that doesn’t matter. Because it will play ad infinitum on cable and streaming services. Funny, oftentimes film outlives the music it is based upon.

    In other words, the remaining members of Queen achieved their goal beyond their wildest dreams. Queen is now forever, watch those ticket counts soar.

    But if Freddie Mercury were still here he’d be laughing.

    You see it was not like today, you didn’t make music for mainstream attention, to be a member of the group, you reveled in your role as an outsider, the world came to YOU!

    Shows sold out, you were rich, and your lifestyle…let’s just say that smartphone cameras have killed the road, at least sexually.

    You were the other, you not only won the game, you defined it.

    You didn’t study hard in school, you didn’t take a traditional path, you created your career out of whole cloth, you gave the middle finger to the establishment.

    And your audience couldn’t get enough of you.

    It’s this ethos the public is hungry for.

    We don’t want brands, we want personalities. Who can’t manage perfume companies and the rest of the mercenary penumbra in today’s world.

    We want people who can say no. People others are begging to perform, be involved with.

    We want leaders, beacons, people who take hold of the system, shake it up, and made it work for them instead of vice versa.

    That was Queen.

    But it was so many more.

    Queen was not the Beatles, they weren’t even the Eagles when it comes to hits and ticket counts. But now they’re the biggest band in the world, decades later.

    When you get it right, you get it right for all time.

    Take risks, do it your way, the public will clamor for you.

    But that’s not today’s paradigm, not really.

    But people don’t change, that’s still what we’re looking for.


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